For one night at least, John Paxson's decision to acquire Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, and PJ Brown and dare the opposition to score or grab an offensive rebound appears to be brilliant.
Miami points per 100 possessions: 69.9
Chicago defensive rebounds: 36
Miami offensive rebounds: 4
People might calm down about Kirk Hinrich's ability to defend Dwyane Wade following Wade's 10-15 (2-3 on three-pointers) night from the floor. Hinrich does a good job keeping up with Wade's off-the-ball movement and he does force Wade (as much as possible) toward Chicago's help defense (Wade turned it over four times) but anytime Wade is making jump shots he's essentially unguardable.
Miami's defense was horrible and their bench worse. Jalen Rose would help, at most, in one of those areas. Frankly, Gary Payton was only marginally more effective on either end of the court than Chris Quinn. The Glove couldn't keep Hinrich in front of him at all. A lot of things will have to go right for Miami to win 50 games.
The Bulls won't get 20 points and an eFG% over 100 from Chris Duhon ever again, but it's not like they had a team-wide hot shooting night. Their more plausible offensive stars, Gordon, Deng, and Nocioni, were 9-26 from the floor with one three-pointer made between them. I can't wait to see how Chicago looks tonight in Orlando to get an initial impression of the value of their depth.
Los Angeles Lakers 114 Phoenix 106
In the first quarter, the Smush Parker/Sasha Vujacic backcourt made me wonder how hard Phil Jackson was trying to win this game.
Then Mike D'Antoni went to the bench and James Jones (above, right) and a disoriented-looking Marcus Banks rendered the Phoenix offense impotent while the Lamar Odom we all fell in love with showed up, put the Lakers on his back, and won the damn game.
Odom got help from Maurice Evans (making me look smart), Andrew Bynum (the points will be harder to come by against non-Phoenix squads, but 5 assists!), Brian Cook, Luke Walton, Radmanovic, and Jordan Farmar. Make no mistake, the Lakers have significantly upgraded their bench. Kobe, feel free to use these guys upon your return.
The inagural 5 of the Night will appear later today, though I've mostly given its composition away herein.